'Purity of Arms'



March 4 2003, 17h: "There are some kids just to the north of the checkpoint, the Ramallah side, who apparently have been throwing stones at the mobile patrols hanging around Qalandia all day. There are now what look like three police jeeps and one army jeep (blokes in military clothing anyway) . . . 1st Sect Photo: Discovery Analytical Resourcing

There's no evidence of any return of fire, but there's shooting from the army - live ammunition. A number of rounds have been fired, probably between two or three dozen, in the general direction of the road leading off to the east [towards Qalandia refugee camp]. Just now, a couple of soldiers have run down the street after whoever it was that was throwing the stones, but there's nothing visible from the main road. I'm standing on the main road [looking north] just past the Qalandia checkpoint.

It seems to have calmed down; the traffic had stopped temporarily but is now driving off again. Two of the soldiers are walking back towards the checkpoint. There's another half a dozen, maybe seven or eight, hanging around where the jeeps are parked, one [jeep] either side of the carriageway, one to the west side of the road. An Israeli women's 'checkpoint watch' group is present - one of the women is standing by the group of soldiers . . . "


A large stone lands in the middle of the road between the jeeps, probably thrown from the top of flats at the side of the road. Soldiers scatter in all directions . . .

"The soldiers are now stopping the traffic running north. One of the women peace activists is trying to keep close to what is happening, standing by the jeeps. One of the soldiers is getting very annoyed with her but she's ignoring him. "

One minute later (17h11): "the traffic is moving again. A couple of soldiers are still hanging around at the top of the road which leads off towards Qalandia camp. I think a couple of squaddies went down there, but they don't seem to have sent anybody else to support them, and maybe they're just looking around to see if the stone throwing's going to start up again. These soldiers are terrified of the rocks coming over, it's hard to imagine why - they've all got tin hats on and protective vests (for bullets, presumably)".

Thirty seconds later: "the shooting is starting again . . ." Four reports rang out. "Two soldiers are standing at the end of the road . . . one of them is walking down a little further . . . the two soldiers are now walking backwards towards the jeep, so it looks as though they're giving up on this little exercise for today." It is 17h13.

"Talking later with the woman who challenged the soldiers, she said to me: "I asked the soldiers to stop shooting, why are you shooting? And he said 'so one or two of them will die - so what ?'"

The following day, 5 March 2003, I was walking back towards Qalandia checkpoint past the scene of the previous day's encounter. I looked up at the buildings and noticed bullet holes in the first floor windows of the flats above shops, close to the road leading away to Qalandia refugee camp . . . "

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